I helped a friend clean up his yard over the weekend. I ended up with a bad case of "gardener's elbow," also known as "tennis elbow." What are my chances this will clear up on its own?

With a little time and patience you have a 95 percent chance of complete recovery. Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis in medical terms) is a common problem after overuse. Yard work, weekend sports, or other repetitive activity is the usual cause of the problem.

If you use rest, ice, and compression in the early recovery period, the inflammation can be brought under control quickly. An ACE wrap or splint can give good support early on. If you must continue the activity or if the symptoms don't go away, formal treatment may be needed.

Learning how to grasp and lift is important. The forearms must stay in a position with the thumbs or palms facing up. Proper stretching after prolonged positions or repetitive motions is helpful.

Strengthening exercises for the muscles of the forearm and wrist can make a big difference. These exercises are done in the pain free range of motion. They are resistive exercises and can be progressed according to the patient's tolerance.